You’ve probably had at least one urinary tract infection in your life as a woman of childbearing age. Urinary tract infections, also called bladder infections or UTI’s, are common in women even outside of pregnancy. The symptoms of a urinary tract infection may differ depending on how severe it is, but most women usually notice a pain or burning during urination. You might also notice that you’re urinating more frequently than usual, and that you suddenly feel the need to urinate urgently. For pregnant women, these symptoms might just feel like side effects of the gestation, so it’s important to take note. As long as they’re treated and cured in a timely manner, they are harmless. However, if they’re left untreated, they could easily turn into a kidney infection.

Even if you treat your kidney infection in time, it can still be uncomfortable, painful and inconvenient. Instead of waiting for one to make an appearance, try preventing it before it starts. UTI’s are more common during pregnancy because your uterus is pressing on your bladder. Therefore, urine can get trapped inside and cause an infection. There is nothing you can do to prevent this type of infection, but at least you can prevent the other causes. Drinking at least eight glasses of water every day will make UTI’s less likely because bacteria will constantly be flushed out of your bladder. Drinking a lot of unsweetened cranberry juice will have the same effect. Urinating after intercourse is another way you can prevent urinary tract infections. When you have sex with your partner, it’s easy for fecal matter and other bacteria to make its way up your urethra and reach your bladder. Urinating after intercourse will flush these bacteria out so that an infection doesn’t develop. After urinating, always wipe from the front to the back so that bacteria is pushed away from the urethra.

Even if you take all of these measures to prevent a UTI, it could still develop because your bladder is compromised by your baby bump. However, by taking care of your bladder, you’re making it less likely for bacteria to settle so infections will be less common. If you think you might have the symptoms of a bladder infection during your pregnancy, speak with your doctor right away about antibiotics. Otherwise, it could creep up on your system and cause a kidney infection, which is more serious.

Source: Efrat Mazor-Dray et al: Maternal Urinary Tract Infection. Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Volume 22 Issue 2 pp. 124-128 2009